JULY 16, 2009-JANUARY 17, 2010
For the exhibition Here and There, New York based artist Arlene Shechet presented a new series of brilliantly constructed and multi-dimensional cast-paper works that blurred the line between drawing and sculpture. In addition, she exhibited a group of digitally-carved wood sculptures of the Rocky Mountains as scholars' rocks with large felt drapes, with imagery specifically referencing David Adjaye's MCA Denver building.
In this work, as in the sculpture for which she is known, Shechet continues to mine the territory between East and West, ancient and modern, sacred and secular, representation and abstraction, the decorative and the fine arts. As the title Here and There suggests, these pieces serve as windows into a sense of place: from the mountains outside, to the plans for the museum itself, to the constructed imaginings of the cast-paper reliefs.
To create her paper collages, Shechet devised a method for casting the surface of water. The resulting molds reproduce the topography of a single turbulent moment. While the paper was still in a fluid state, Shechet embedded landscape imagery within the liquid pulp, using a combination of nineteenth century Japanese katagami stencils (once used for printing kimono fabrics) and images drawn, cut and stenciled by the artist. Executed in a rich palette of blues and browns, the finished work references eighteenth century azuri-e woodblock prints and Asian blue and white textiles and ceramics.
To construct her wooden sculptures, Shechet began by working with satellite scans of the Rocky Mountains. Extending the language of innovation and process, she used the scans to make 3-D digital models that were then fed into a digital carving machine. The results pulled the dramatic outside landscapes into the intimate environment of the museum.
Shechet's constructions speak to the moment. Inviting us to gaze at the surface of water, the shapes of the mountains, and the architecture of the museum itself, they make the familiar more unfamiliar by revealing secrets hidden in plain sight.
Arlene Shechet lives and works in New York City. She was the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2004 and has received three separate Artist Fellowship Grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Individual Artist Grant. In September 2009 she had a solo show at the F.Y. Tang Museum in Saratoga Springs curated by Ian Berry. She is represented in New York City by Jack Shainman Gallery and in Santa Monica by Shoshana Wayne Gallery. In addition to exhibiting both nationally and internationally, her work is in numerous public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Her series of handmade paper works was the subject of a cover story in Art on Paper written by artist Kiki Smith. Her New York City exhibition was given rave reviews. Roberta Smith of the New York Times called the show "inspiring" and the work "terrific, full of references yet almost debt-free." Shechet holds a BA from New York University and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.
Sponsored in part by members of MCA Denver's Director's & President's Circles.
image: Arlene Shechet. Fireworks Bridge (detail), from the series Here and There, 2009, cast cotton pulp with pigmented linen pulp, 22 x 30 in (55.9 x 76.2 cm). Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, NYC. Photo by Cathy Carver.